Under the Blood-Red Sun by Graham Salisbury

Published: 1994

Genre: middle-grade historical fiction

Length: 244 pages

Setting: Hawaii, around the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor

Interest: Mr. Curiosity chose it as his latest bedtime story because it has to do with WWII. I’m sure that’s why I bought the book in the first place.

Summary: Tomi’s parents moved to Hawaii from Japan before he was born. His father is a fisherman and his mother works as a cleaning lady at the Wilson’s house. Tomi plays baseball with a couple of local boys, nicknamed the Rats. Things have become a bit tense since Japan started fighting the U.S. and it only gets worse when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor. Tomi’s father is captured off his fishing boat and sent to an internment camp. The Wilson’s don’t want his mother working for them and even the shopkeepers won’t serve his family. Things are looking pretty dire for his family, but they manage to make it though with the help of some friends, like the Rats.

Final thoughts: Mr. Curiosity and I really enjoyed this book. The point of view was unique and quite fascinating. You had a Japanese-American boy who really just wants to play baseball, but is forced to consider larger themes like honor and integrity because of outside, worldwide events. The author did a great job capturing the tone boys take with each other, including all the joking insults (many of them racially oriented) so common among boys. Even Tomi’s friend, Billy, the one white character, was teased because of his racial identity since he was in the minority among the Rats. Tomi was forced to deal with people who hated him just because of how he looked. Luckily, he had a good friend in Billy, who stuck by him, no matter what.

This is definitely for a slightly older crowd (I’d say 10 and up) since there is a bit of language (mostly racial slurs that aren’t common anymore). There’s also some intense scenes, like when Tomi and his grandfather have to kill all their pigeons since they might be carrying messages to the enemy. It does make a great read aloud since the dialogue between the boys is an integral part of the story. You just have to read the adults with a Japanese accent. Apparently, it was also made into a movie in 2014.

Title comes from: A reference to the Japanese flag that shadowed Tomi and his family because of their heritage.

Awards won: Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction

Reading challenges fulfilled: 13/100 in my Finally to 100 Challenge, a U in my Title Alphabet Challenge, and 5/12 in my Award Winning Challenge.

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Published: 2000

Genre: middle grade fiction

Length: 182 pages

Setting: Naomi, Florida, probably around the 1970s

Interest: I needed another audio book for a trip to a gymnastics meet. This was a shorter trip, so I needed a shorter book. I knew Kate DiCamillo’s work (we’ve enjoyed her Mercy Watson stories for the picture book age, Bink and Gollie stories for the short chapter book age, and The Tale of Despereaux) so I felt this was likely to be a good book as well. Continue reading

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Paradise Left by Evan Dickon


by Seth Alan Bareiss

Published: April 2013 in Daily Science Fiction, also in audio form at Escape Pod

Genre: science fiction

Length: 7 pages

Setting: Earth after the singularity

Interest: It was included in the 2014 Campbellian anthology

Summary: Ashley is a frustrated rebel. She and a group of other like-minded people started a war against the AIs. They won, and have even developed a government. However, Ashley is convinced the AIs lost on purpose. Rob, her boyfriend, doesn’t understand the problem. Society seems to be perfect. I can do anything I want, as long as it doesn’t infringe on anyone else’s rights (the perfect Heinlein society). The AIs just want everyone to be safe.

Final thoughts: As I started reading the story, I recognized it but couldn’t figure out where I had read it before. Turns out it was an Escape Pod episode. The story has an interesting premise. What if the AIs have become smarter than us, but instead of trying to destroy humanity (like we typically see, a la Terminator), they become a benevolent dictator trying to keep us all safe and happy. I do think there would be a portion of the population that wouldn’t be satisfied with safe and happy.

Title comes from: Not an obvious one. Perhaps the AIs have created a Paradise for humanity that some people still want to leave?


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A Door Into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski

Published: 1986

Genre: hard science fiction

Length: 403 pages

Setting: mostly the moon Shora, in the world of the Elysium Cycle

Interest: It’s the first book in the Elysium Cycle (followed by Daughter of Elysium). I read The Children Star by Slonczewski and loved it so much I decided to seek out some of her other books. Continue reading

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Pallas by L. Neil Smith

Published: 1993

Genre: science fiction

Length: 448 pages

Setting: the asteroid Pallas, in the future

Interest: It was a random book picked off my Kindle. Continue reading

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Paint the Wind by Pam Munoz Ryan

Published: 2009

Genre: middle grade fiction

Length: 352 pages

Setting: present day, mostly Wyoming

Interest: I needed an audiobook for our latest trip to a gymnastics meet. Miss Adventure chose this one from what was available (and about the right length) at our library. Continue reading

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Short Stories by Robert Dawson

Interest: They were included in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

The Widow

Published: AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review in May 2012

Genre: science fiction

Length: flash length (really short)

Setting: Earth, in the future

Summary: The narrator is a computer program that was designed to grab information from one location and send on different information from another. Gradually we learn the program was developed to make money, most likely illegally. The programmer has disappeared and the primary objective function of the program has declined. The program has access to $74 million and is just looking for an honest human to use the money to benefit other humans. But you must reply soon since the power will go out on the servers hosting the program within three days and the money will be lost at that point.

Final thoughts: The story has a very awkward start with an amusing ending when you realize the whole story is really just an updated version of the Nigerian prince spam message.

The Fifth Postulate

Published: Imaginaire, December 2013

Genre: historical fiction

Length: short story

Setting: Greece, about 300 BCE

Summary: Euclid is just finishing his famous book of geometry, Elements, but he still hasn’t managed to prove the fifth postulate. He’s tried to prove it true, tried to consider it false and find a contradiction, and nothing has worked. It’s not until thousands of years later that Janos Bolyai discovers hyperbolic geometry where the fifth postulate isn’t true.

Final thoughts: An interesting little math story that makes you want to know what the fifth postulate is (if you’re interested, check this page out).

Soldier’s Return

Published: Niteblade, December 2013

Genre: ghost story

Setting: Canada, after WWII

Summary: A soldier’s wife died soon after he was deployed, but her ghost has waited for him in the living room of the house they shared. When he finally dies, he’s able to visit her. He doesn’t want to stay, but agrees to a cup of tea together.

Final thoughts: Interesting premise, and I like the image of the house finally decaying once the ghost got her visit from her husband and departed. Overall, I didn’t find Dawson’s style something I would seek out on a regular basis. It wasn’t bad, but just not my type.



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